Flat Design: Online, Offline & Inbetween

2
2026
Banner for feature on Flat Design

Flat Design, what’s it all about? Why have we seemingly gone back in time to simpler things? Like it or not, it’s here! Here’s why and where it’s headed…

flat design and skeuomorphism

Flat Design is the latest design sensation around the web, and the world of UI design. Big and bold blocks of colour can be seen hand in hand with stylish sans serif or slab fonts and simple-looking icons. No longer are designers living under the drop shadow of Skeuomorphism, with it’s layered stitching and chromed embossing.

The style became popular with UI design – as apps became simplified, with some app designers trying to break away from the overnight sensation, bloated apps with an abundance of somewhat useless features (often only implemented as an afterthought with the promise of a micro transaction being the motivator) – for streamlined, more purposeful apps. With these simplified apps came the need to dispense with sliced images for the layout of the UI, a plethora of layers, grains and textures, which choked load time and took more time than was economical to create and employ.

On the web, Skeuomorphic sites were in a state of design overload, which was bad news for load time, search engine optimisation and the abundance of sliced images made it hard to change a website’s look on the fly (HTML5 add-ons in conjunction with the latest CSS3 and Javascript libraries enable much better looking, faster websites.)

Following this trend big names like Microsoft took action and developed their own Flat UI, Microsoft’s Design Language, previously known as ‘Metro’, which was launched with their Windows 8 phone systems and ‘touch friendly’ PC operating system. Google with their swipeable card system and newly simplified logo and more recently, Apple (more than responsible for the years of Skeuomorphism) with their iOS7 and Mavericks OS – have followed suit and changed the way their UI looks in favour of flatter designs.

google flat design logo
Google recently flattened the design of their logo

Flat Design in Printed Media

So what does this mean for printed media? The purpose of flat design was to remedy the poor state of cluttered and unfriendly design – so why can’t this apply to printed material too? If you don’t have images, and want to ensure the information you include on your business card is well displayed – perhaps you should consider flat design?

Flat design concentrates on colour, and beautiful, sleek typography. As well as being wonderful to look at – flat design is easy to re-use, change, refresh and scale. Scaling really detailed textures and grains can be a pain, often leading designers into extra time and cost – scaling a block of colour is easy and flawless.

Flat design can be super-simple at it’s fundamental level – however, this doesn’t detract from the excellent work some professional flat designers can pump out.

superhero postcards

Check out these awesome Superhero Postcards from Italian Design outfit Forma & Co.

Read more on our Flat Design series:

FREE Flat Design Business Card Template & Photoshop Tutorial

Free Fonts – Popular Free Fonts for Commercial Use

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